The Worst of All Sins

Dear Friends, Jat:yu is an eagle belonging to the bird species. Our previsou a:cha:ryas called Jata:yu as “periya vudaya:r” and praised him as Jata:yu Maharaj. Although Dasaratha, born in Ikshva:ku clan, had none other than Srimannarayana as his son, at the time of his death he was not fortunate to have his funeral rites performed by his son Ra:ma. But such fortune was bestowed upon Jata:yu by Lord Ra:ma Himself.

While Si:tha, Ra:ma and Lakshmana were doing vanava:sam in the forest, and were trying to build a hermitage near Panchavati, they were examining the surroundings and came upon a big bird.


The big bird talked to Ra:ma and Lakshmana thus, “Oh Ra:ma and Lakshmana, you are the sons of the famed Ikshvaku king Dasarattha, and have come to the forest to obey the wish of your father. King Dasarattha is my good friend, let me tell you my story,” said the bird.

Of the Praja:patis believed to be the cause of this creation, the first Praja:pati was Kardama, and the last one was Kashyapa. Daksha who had 60 daughters gave 8 of his daughters in marriage to Kashyapa. Out of the 8 daughters, Kadruva gave birth to a thousand serpents. Vinata, had 2 eggs, they being incarnations of Anu:ra and Garuda. While they were hatching, Kadruva gave birth, and Vinata was anxious that her eggs are still not hatching. So, she slowly poked Anu:ra’s egg and forcefully took out the half formed being. Having not fully formed Anu:ra took the shape of a boy with unformed bottom half from the thighs.

Anu:ra got very angry at his mother for deforming him thus and cursed her that she would become the servant maid of her sister and step wife Kadruva. Anu:ra further advised his mother not to do the same fateful action to the second egg, as he in turn will be the one who will be her protector and who would relieve her from slavery. That Anu:ra became the charioteer of Sun God Surya, and me (Garuda) and my brother Sampa:ti are 2 sons of Su:rya.

Long time ago there was a war between Vrutra and Indra, during then me and my brother Sampa:ti wanted to test our strength and how fast we could run and ran towards the Sun. As they were nearing the Sun, Jata:yu felt exhausted and was about to burn his wings, when Sampa:ti helped him by covering his wings over Jata:yu’s so that they will not burn. We both fell down in various places, I fell here, but I have no clue where my brother is, and Jata:yu wept for his brother.

Then Jata:yu said, O Ra:ma, this place is very conducive to your living. So please construct a cottage here and I will guard Si:tha when you and Lakshmana are not here. Then Ra:ma told Lakshmana, let’s establish a hermitage here and live with the bird.

After a while, Ra:vana with the help of the of Ma:ri:cha, abducted Si:tha and took her in his chariot to Lanka. On the way, Si:tha spotted Jata:yu, and Jata:yu observed that she was being taken forcibly by the evil Ra:vana. She told Jata:yu that he should inform Ra:ma and Lakshmana without delay. Mother Si:tha must have thought that Jata:yu is old and could not fight the evil Ra:vana who had a lot of weapons
with him.

But Jata:yu on the other hand, wanted not to simply wait until Ra:ma and Lakshmana arrive. He wanted to stop Ra:vana and said, “O Ra:vana, King of the Ra:kshasa:s, I am the mighty bird Jata:yu and the King of Birds. I had given my word to protect Si:tha while Ra:ma and Lakshmana are away. This is Si:tha, the daughter in law of the mighty King Dasarattha and the wife of Sri Ra:ma. Sri Ra:machandra, with his blemishless character, and fine conduct stole the hearts of his people. Although you were born in the famed Pulastya dynasty, you are degrading your clan’s reputation and ancestry. If you yourself are acting badly, how can you resolve the issues of your people rightly? Because of you, your kingdom also will ruin. Please listen to me. Ramachandra is not the kind of person to meddle with other people without cause. He is of merit. What did Ra:ma do to you to cause this harm to him?

If you are angry, you must wage a war with Ra:ma as a warrior, but why steal a lady who is alone? This will be an unfading blemish to your character. Leave her alone. As long as I live, I will not let you take her. If you are ready to wage war with me, I am ready. I am 60,000 years old. I will show you my strength.”

Jata:yu then poked Ra:vana with his nose and scratched him with his toe nails, and with the strength of his wings, broke the chariot, killed the charioteer,broke Ra:vana’s bow, and threw the quiver of arrows to the ground. Then Ra:vana cut off Jata:yu’s wings with his knife. With this Jata:yu fell off spilling blood.

With this, Ra:vana was about to take Si:tha and Jata:yu wounded and dying, said, “O Ra:vana, not knowing the strength of
Ra:ma and Lakshmana you are getting into a fight with them. Before you take Si:tha please assess your actions and then take a decision. Otherwise you will be losing a lot”. No matter how much Jata:yu tried to reason with Ra:vana, he did not listen and took Si:tha away to Lanka.

Ra:ma and Lakshmana meanwhile, searched everywhere for Si:tha and finally came to where Jata:yu was, saw him from behind fallen on the ground like a big mountain and thought it was a ra:kshasa. After they came closer they saw Jata:yu in a deathly state, spilling blood from his mouth and unable to talk.

Jata:yu slowly spoke with lot of sadness, “O Ra:machandra, Ra:vana abducted your wife. In trying to protect Si:tha, I fought with Ra:vana with all my might, killed his charioteer, broke the chariot and forced him off his chariot with his bows and arrows to the ground. You can see all the evidence of what I did on the ground. Ra:vana broke my wings with a knife and I started to bleed and die. Despite all this, I could
not keep my word to you. Please kill me with your bow and arrow”.

While Rama and Lakshmana were trying to comfort Jata:yu and rubbed his body, Jata:yu took his last breath.

Ra:machandra told Lakshmana “I have the same respect for Jata:yu as I have for my father. Just like my father, Jata:yu fought until he died and died for me without selfishness. Jata:yu promised he will protect Si:thamma. For giving me that word he fought until his last
breath and died like a gallant warrior. Hence, I will take care of his final rites of passage, please assemble the pyre of wood Lakshmana, so I can perform the funeral rites”. Having commanded Lakshmana thus, Ra:ma performed the rites and gave Mo:ksha to Jata:yu.

In this story, Mother Si:tha wrongfully accused Lakshmana for not going to Rama’s aid to hunt the golden deer, attributing bad motives to Lakshmana. Since Lakshmana was a great devotee, an utmost devotee of Lord Rama, and he was accused wrongfully, even a great devotee like Jata:yu could not save Si:tha from Ra:vana. However mightily he tried to save Si:tha, Jata:yu could not overcome Ra:vana. Elders attribute this to the apacha:ram (fault) Si:thamma did to Lakshmana, a Bha:gavatha (devotee). Hence “Bha:gavatha:pacha:ram” or finding fault with Vishnu’s devotees is not at all a good thing.

– Translated by Lakshmi Samudrala from Telugu BN article